This might sound strange - but the word “best” bothers me. Whenever someone talks about being the best in their field or champions their product as the best on the market, I feel a sense of frustration bubbling up inside.
For a long time, I couldn’t figure out why it irritated me so much, but then it hit me: the word is just so… final. I mean, beyond “best” there is nothing – a deep black hole that few people have thought to explore.
Being, doing and possessing the best is seen by many as the ultimate achievement, but to me it is a sign of resignation. Settling for best, means accepting that you have reached your peak. But that can’t be the end of the story, can it?
Moving on beyond best
It is precisely this line of thinking that can plunge elite achievers into the depths of despair. When they have reached the highest heights and achieved the greatest accolades in their field, they face that most terrifying of questions - What next?
For me, however, it is not a question to fear. In fact, I relish it. My new company, enaible, has officially launched, and we will begin to tackle that very question head on. At enaible, we see things differently.
For us, “best” is the beginning, not the end. In a nutshell, we take peak performance as a starting point and enable leaders to become the best they can be, before helping them to get even better.
To do that, we draw on AI and decades of leadership experience. But it’s all about mindset too, and few people have put it better than superstar soccer player, Cristiano Ronaldo.
The 34-year-old Juventus striker is the fifth highest scorer of all time, so you might assume that he would take some time to decide which of his 737 goals was his favorite. Not so. When someone asked him about his best-ever goal at a press conference, his answer came without hesitation: “My best goal is yet to come.”
Keep pushing forward
With Ronaldo as a prime example, the relentless pursuit of self-betterment is often associated with top athletes. However, as Graham Jones points out in the “Harvard Business Review”, the parallels between sport and business are striking. According to the former university professor and performance consultant, the real key to excellence is not ability, it is mental toughness.
Jones highlights a number of commonalities shared by champions of the sporting and business worlds. Top performers in both arenas thrive on pressure; they rebound quickly from setback and defeat. And rather than fearing competition, they surround themselves with it, training with people who push them to their limits and beyond.
Business of reinvention
For Jones, true champions are also expert at reinventing themselves in order to maintain their status. They take time to celebrate their victories, only moving on when they fully understand the factors that led to their success. Then, of course, there is the will to win.
Even when you are at the peak of your game, disappointment is an inevitability that befalls all of us at one time or another, and when that happens, it is those of us who get straight back in the ring who really win in life.
But there’s something else that unites the elites in every field, and that’s the simple fact that “best” can only ever be temporary. Once upon a time, Pete Sampras was regarded as the best male tennis player in the world. But then came Roger Federer.
Similarly, when Apple released the very first iPhone, it was arguably the best smartphone out there – until the iPhone 2 came along. The list goes on.
So, whatever your profession, discipline or passion, don’t be constrained by superlatives. There is nothing wrong with striving to be the best, fastest, richest or smartest. But remember that your story doesn’t have to end there.
Whatever you do, be the best you can be, then better.